Going 3D for Michael Flatley’s New Irish Dance Extravaganza
Michael Flatley doesn’t do things small. The dancer who launched onto the world’s stage with “Riverdance” and then with his breakaway hit “Lord of the Dance” has turned his show into a concert-style movie… in 3-D at that.
Firstly, it’s a fan show. Those who love Irish dance extravaganzas and/or Michael Flatley will not be disappointed. It’s got sparkly costumes, extreme theatrical lighting, a booming soundtrack, pyrotechnics, fast-footed Irish dancers, and cameras catching every move.
Why the film “had” to be 3-D escapes me… aside from some cheesy sparkles that fly into the audience and about three nicely crafted stage shots, it wasn’t worth the headache of wearing the 3-D glasses.
Searching for a Genre
The show makes a go at a documentary-style prologue. Michael Flatley, filmed in black and white, talking into the camera… telling us it’s a big deal to be returning to Dublin with the stage show. Sadly, it’s just him working too hard to convince us that the drama exists. A few scenes show him coaching his troupe of dancers… who I hope to get to know, but quickly realize their place is in the background. Afterall, this isn’t “A Chorus Line.”
Sweeping camera shots and tight editing keep the show interesting. However, the moments of Flatley in slow-motion seem better suited for an action-adventure spoof. There’s a fight scene ala “West Side Story” that probably works in a live performance, but feels awkward on film… especially when it ends with the equivalent of a crucifixion scene… resurrection and all!
Genuine Irish Dance
Fortunately, the show jumps out of it’s flashy rhythm for a moment to bring us a swan dance scene. The simple accordion music and pure dance number reminds us that there is something genuine in Irish dance… something that gets lost in the loud, precision-heavy choreography running through the show.
Not to be outdone by the rest of the film, the overproduced curtain call has the entire cast arrive by spaceship (I’m not making this up). Maybe it explains why the Dark Lord was dressed in an outfit from Power Rangers’ dressing room.
I gotta admit, it’s easy to take potshots at the storyline and Flatley, but all in all, the film does a decent job of translating the stage production to the movie screen. I have three beefs with “Lord of the Dance 3D.”
- It didn’t need to be in 3D… except that it makes for a nice marketing ploy.
- Flatley insists he is entering the “lion’s den” by returning to Dublin, yet the film never introduces us to anything lion-like… unless it was some obscure reference to a whimpering Celtic Tiger. In fact, the film makes Irish dance appear so effortless, his comments seem overly dramatic. Had the show given us a look at the athleticism required for Irish dance or the growling critics or any other challenges, we might have actually felt some tension – of course, then I’d likely be criticizing Flatley for being a whiner, so the guy can’t win.
- A bigger issue involves the women in the show. Apparently, even the fiddlers are required to have dancers’ bodies (and the dancers apparently need a stripper’s physique). I wouldn’t say I’m a prude, but when the wholesome fairy nymph girls dance off against the sex kitten character, there was an uncomfortable chuckle from the movie theater audience when the nymphs strip down to black bras and underwear (while the live audience seemed to love it). We are later confronted with giant video images of silhouetted Bond girls writhing in the background – a completely weird choice. Sorry, but both segments were completely out of sync with the rest of the show and seem like a desperate attempt to be “edgy.” I dread knowing the next generation of Irish dancers will be exposed to a bad rendition of burlesque. And I must ask, “why is it only the girls who have to run around in their undies?”
The show is only in theaters for a few more days, but it’s safe to say it’ll be available on DVD very soon. If you love splashy Irish dance shows, Lord of the Dance 3D will make your must-see list. I can assure you, watching it on a good HD TV will be just as good as catching it in 3D.
At the end of the day, the film will not convert the average film-goer into an Irish dance fan. That magic is still reserved for live performances. However, for those who can’t get enough Irish dance, it’ll offer a good dose of Irish dance theater.
More information at www.lordofthedance3d.com.
FYI – After polling our followers, I did accept free passes to see this show. Here’s a look at the poll results:
Should we see Lord of the Dance 3D
- Abso-diddly-lutely YES! (165%, 124 Votes)
- Flately NO! (51%, 38 Votes)
Total Voters: 75